Nfld. & Labrador

St. John's council votes against buying 2 electric cars

In a vote on Monday, St. John's city council decided not to buy two electric vehicles for its traffic enforcement fleet.
The City of St. John's will no longer be buying two Nissan Leaf electric vehicles, like the one pictured, after a vote Monday night. (Gary Cameron/Reuters)

The City of St. John's decided not to buy two electric vehicles for its traffic enforcement fleet in a vote on Monday.

Councillors voted 8-2 against buying the two vehicles, after weeks of public debate over the issue both inside and outside of City Hall.

Coun. Dave Lane led the charge for electric cars, and the move initially had significant council support.

"It was a great discussion that happened over the last few weeks, but I think in some senses it led to paralysis by analysis," he said.

"In other words, we couldn't make a decision because things got a little confusing."

Lane said while the motion was struck down on Monday, he still stands by his position that electric vehicles is a great way to save the city money while benefiting the environment.

"There are people here in our city that have been driving electric cars for years," he said.

"That's proof that these things are here, they're here to stay, people love them and they work well in our climate."

Last week, former St. John's Mayor Andy Wells spoke out passionately against the idea, and support from other council members had deteriorated in the weeks leading up to Monday's vote.

Coun. Jonathan Galgay changed his position from initially supporting the electric car pilot project to voting against it Monday night. (CBC)

In the end, only councillors Lane and Sandy Hickman voted in favour of still buying the vehicles.

Coun. Jonathan Galgay originally supported the electric car pilot project, however after hearing from the public and doing further research he says he changed his mind about the $80,000 project.

"This was a substantial amount of money for a pilot project," he said.

"Many of my constituents felt that the money should be invested back into the fleet, or back into other areas that the city has budgeted for."

Andy Wells' influence

Galgay said Andy Wells' letter didn't change his mind.

"He has a right to express his opinion," he said.

"I'm not influenced by Andy Wells, but I respect him for being very vocal on the issue."

He said he's not necessarily against the idea of electric vehicles, but just thinks council needs to be cautious when it comes to finances.

"Councillor Lane did present some very good information to council," he said.

"I know we had to be progressive in thinking, and it's not to say the whole issue is dead. As we move forward there may be more opportunities to evaluate."

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